AFCON 2012 is beginning to look like Senegal 1992 AFCON. Twenty years ago, Ghana had to overcome a talented Zambian side to book a place with Ivory Coast in the finals. Ghana was the hot tournament favourite in 1992, but the Zambians gave Ghana a good run for their money.
This time around, the Zambians are promising the world they will finish Ghana off. According to coach Herve Renard: “The most important thing is that we believe in ourselves. Now we have the chance to go to the final. We have the confidence, the maturity and got it all.” Team captain and Chris Katongo also had this to say: “We know their names but when we get to the pitch, we want to beat them. Its eleven against eleven and time to make a name for ourselves and for the young players in the team to move up.”
of Zambia”]This confidence from Zambia is not dropping from a vacuum. Similar to Ghana, they have spent the last few years constructing a winsome team. One time Ghana’s physical trainer Herve Renard has forged a disciplined, united and winsome team which can boast of facing any opposition.
Against Ghana, one can expect Renard’s charges to start the game with a fitness advantage. They are most likely going toattack Ghana’s defence relentlessly. The may also at crucial times look to sit deep and strike on the break via the flanks. This tendency to throw men forward might prove to be their weakness.
Ghana on the other hand might come into this game slightly on the low. Undefeated so far with just two goals conceded, the team still seems to be struggling to find its shine.
Typically, Ghanaian fans expect beautiful passes and ball juggling, but Goran Stevanovic’s Black Stars prefer efficiency to going for the jocular. This efficiency approach explains why in spite of all the back lash from fans and pundits alike after each game, the Man of the Match Award has gone to a Black Stars players.
Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu against Tunisia
John Panstil against Guinea
Andre Ayew against Mali and
John Boye against Botswana
Obviously, something must right with the Ghana team which explains why Ghana deputy coach, Akwasi Appiah, does not see Zambia going into the finals. But he knows that the Black Stars will need inspiration going into the game if they are to stop the run of the Zambians: “The difficult part is that, most of our players have played about three-four games now and sometimes, it’s really difficult to get them to play at their maximum as you want in every game.”
”]Ghana has more to give than it had offered at this AFCON and one can not tell at what exact point in the tournament they will explode. But there is no doubt about the urge to combat among the Ghanaian players. Anthony Annan has shrugged off the loss of his mother to play for Ghana. The fight in Andre Ayew is probably larger than that in all of Zambia’s team. Inexperienced John Boy has shown what a big heart he has in this tournament.
This is the spirit that will take Ghana through to the finals of AFCON 2012.